“Betray” might be a tad strong of a word. OK, not really. I don’t know how else to characterize this. As some of you already know, I have had a love/hate relationship with Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus these last few years. They have been a great circus tradition since 1919. No other show has ever exemplified the word “circus” as they have. Which is what makes their latest betrayal all the more heartbreaking. I have been going to their shows since they were still extravagant 3-ring spectacles and true to the spirit of being “the greatest show on earth.” But over the last few years they’ve crapped on a lot of circus tradition. I’m going to resist ranting about all the different things they have done to kick true circus lovers in the teeth and just talk about their latest slap in the face. It is no secret thst Ringling Brothers have been marginalizing clowns over the years. The last RBB&B show I went to seemed to include some clowns as an afterthought. Clowns were once one of the most celebrated and prominent aspects of the show. They were household names and appeared on major magazine covers and were featured prominently on circus advertisements. Now at most Ringling Brothers shows, clowns are relegated to promoting show souvinir toys and chorus nonsense. At the last one I attended, I wondered why they even bothered to include them at all. I wondered if they were going to eventually just drop them from the show altogether. Well, the other day they tweeted something that just made my jaw drop. Hyping their new Out of This World show, they posted a photo on Twitter with the caption “Forget elephants and clowns. This is why the circus of the 21st rocks.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading. “Forget clowns.” Bad enough we get reminded that elephants have been removed from the show. But we’re now told clowns are just as irrelevant? Are clowns going to be the next great tradition to get booted from what is essentially the new Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Acrobat Festival? What the actual hell? And this was just days after I applauded them for including token clowns in one of about a hundred Twitter posts. This wasn’t just a slap in the face. It was that AND a spit in the eye. I’m thoroughly angry at this. Forget clowns. Holy crap. After all that clowns have done for those guys- both on the sawdust floor AND behind the scenes. Know what? FORGET RINGLING BROS. I’m done with them. From now on I’m just supporting what few traditional mud shows are still out there. Anyone who still has respect for real circuses and the clowns who made them great, help me spread the word and tell RBB&B to get bent. If you do the Twitter thing, throw out a quick message to them with the hashtag #ForgetRinglingBros Or you can just shrug your shoulders and say “times are changing” and watch clowning die out altogether. Really, if Korean pop boy bands can trend with annoying frequency, we can at least get this to trend for ten minutes. Clowning as an art form is dying. It isn’t dying because “times are changing.” It’s dying because the industry and the clowning community has done little to counter the systematic marginalization of clowns. Of course technology has changed things. The world is at our fingertips. There are countless distractions and things vying for the attention and limelight on an amazing array of media that did not exist in 1919. But then, we have access to the same technology. We can use it to further our art and promote an image counter to the tiresome pop trend that denigrates clowns as creepy, scary killers or monsters. And to troll Ringling Brothers. Definitely troll Ringling Brothers.